Week 3: LODD – Reading Buildings and Conditions  Review the NIOSH Publication No. 2014-120: Preventing Deaths and Injuries to Fire Fighters by Establishing Collapse Zones at Structure Fires and NIOSH

Week 3: LODD – Reading Buildings and Conditions 

Review the NIOSH Publication No. 2014-120: Preventing Deaths and Injuries to Fire Fighters by Establishing Collapse Zones at Structure Fires and NIOSH – F2013-4:Two Career Lieutenants Killed and Two Career Fire Fighters Injured Following a Flashover at an Assembly Hall Fire—Texas

Did the conclusions in this report offer recommendations for future prevention of similar incidents?

What relation did established regulations and standards have to the events surrounding the fatality?

How do collapse zone considerations impact fireground operations and what is the ISO’s role in the process?  



In this week’s forum the topic at hand describes the LODD of two career Lieutenants and the injury of two firefighters in 2013 recurred in Texas. The conclusion of the report does in fact recommend sixteen solution to prevent future accidents such as the one that happened on February 15, 2013 to happen again. All the recommendations listed in the report were great and I will summarize some of them to give you an idea.

One of the recommendations was that the fire department should use risk management principles at all structure fires. After witnessing closed doors and no vehicles in the parking lot, the officer in charge should have not risk any lives to protect the structure itself. At that time the more experience personal, which could have been the officer, incident commander, or safety officer, should have made the decision of not entering the structure due to the already compromised building.

Another recommendation listed was about understanding the fire strategy and tactics: being able to maneuver and communicate with crew members as a team is an important task. Just to play devil’s advocate, the probationary firefighter lost his partner due to not keeping constant communication. On another note if I had limited air, I would not be doing unnecessary talking either. Understanding the dynamics of ventilating the fire and the reason you have to communicate and coordinate between the fire-ground and the roof teams played an important role in this incident. Poor guidance from the officers in charge led to the teams being trapped during the flashover. A roof team should have been in place coordinating ventilation to allow smoke and hot gases to escape while the ground team fights the fire with water.

The last recommendation I will speak on is number eight, which talks about pre-incident planning and inspections of buildings. Conducting a pre-plan of the buildings in your area is a valuable key in my book. It helps by familiarizing yourself along with everybody on your crew. Together ideas could be formed on battling the fire ahead of time and figuring out the best outcomes. In the report, it claimed a pre-plan was conducted but wasn’t available on the night of the fire. I think that was just poor record keeping and could be easily fixed. The ISO job is continuously monitor the safety conditions and fire behavior while stopping anything that can jeopardize or put firefighters and emergency personal at risk. 

NIOSH. (2014, May 20). Two Career Lieutenants Killed and Two Career Fire Fighters Injured Following a Flashover at an Assembly Hall Fire—Texas. Retrieved from NIOSH: https://edge.apus.edu/access/content/group/security-and-global-studies-common/EDMG/FSMT405/NIOSH%20-%20F2013-4_Flashover%20LODD.pdf


Preventing death and injuries to firefighters by establishing collapse zones at structure fires:

In the report NIOSH outlines data from the United States Fire Administration that during a twelve year period there were 1230 line of duty firefighter deaths with 142 of those deaths attributed to structural collapse (Loflin et al., 2014, p. 1). The most common practice taught throughout the fire service in mitigating structural collapse is to establish zones.  This zone is 1 1/2 the size of the structure.  However, it is important to note that other areas that must be accounted for during a structural fire are structures that may be higher than the load bearing walls of the building such as chimneys. 

NIOSH recommends that every fire department utilize NFPA 1620 guideline in establishing their pre-incident survey standards.  Conducting pre-incident surveys can identify areas that may be prone to collapse such as parapets and cantilevered walls. Some states require a placard system for identifying certain types of construction.  This is usually to identify whether a commercial structure is of a lightweight truss design in either the roof, floor, or combination of each. 

On scene the incident commander should immediately identify a collapse zone based on the conditions of the fire and continuously update the zone based on the structural integrity of the building.  The fire ground may not always allow for apparatus to be outside of a 1 1/2 the distance of the structure, however it is a common practice to place apparatus and personnel on the corners of the structure. There are several recommendations given for on scene management of structural collapse, but the most important is that the incident commander delegate management of the safety zone to a safety officer. 

NIOSH also recommends that a post incident survey be conducted to determine what procedures worked and how to improve them, or which procedures did not work and need to be replaced.

Two career fire lieutenants killed and two firefighters injured in flashover:

NIOSH makes several recommendations in report F2013-04. They are all equally important, but only the core issues will be covered.

The first recommendation is that the incident commander must make a risk versus reward decision.  Interior attack inside of a large open commercial structure, fire self venting from the roof, no sprinklers, and a confirmation of no victims inside the structure should have been a defensive operation. Ventilation of a structure a fire attack must be coordinated. This structure had already self vented and crews had opened doors.  PPV fans were put into operation fueling the fire. Initial fire crews made entry into the structure and did carry thermal imaging devices in order to determine the seed of the fire, or thermal conditions.  

This may have alerted crews to the potential of an impending flashover. Commercial structure fires such as this one typical rely on a mutual aid agreement.  If this is the case an IAP must be emplace.  This IAP must be understood by all departments on the mutual aid agreement.  This is the first step in proper communication on the fire ground. A complete size up of the facility must be conducted every time of the entire facility even if that means driving around it. Having a MAYDAY SOG is absolutely imperative and that every department including dispatch has one. A dedicated communications system must be emplace to  properly manage and monitor MAYDAY situations. If the conditions exist to declare MAYDAY it must be done. Too many departments develop a negative stigma of firefighters who have declared MAYDAY. Individual department should have SOG based on NFPA recommendations that cover the use of thermal imagers, proper maintenance of PPE, pre-incident surveys, fire ground tactics such as the deployment of back up attack lines for egress, and RIT. 


Loflin, M. E., Tarley, J., & Lutz, V. (2014). Preventing deaths and injuries to fire fighters by establishing collapse zones at structure fires.

NISOH, Two career lieutenants killed and two career … (2014, May 20). Retrieved August 21, 2019, from https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/fire/pdfs/face201304.pdf

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